Published February 23, 2021 at 1:09pm.
Interview by Mary Martin. Photos courtesy of Dasha Crosby.
Looking back on her own tumultuous journey that built a family and career, Dasha Crosby is using her personal experience and the skills she has gained in the financial sector to create a student-focused organization in North Dallas called Youth Going Above & Beyond (YGAB). From programs centered on mindfulness and self-confidence to personal branding and financial literacy courses, Youth Going Above & Beyond is helping students to overcome real-life challenges with grit.
As the founder of a youth-focused nonprofit and a mother of five, what sparked your passion for helping young people achieve their goals?
From an early age, I always knew I wanted to work with kids. As a teenager, I babysat, tutored and mentored others—I loved helping kiddos develop and grow. That passion eventually transitioned to a desire for a big family, and I’ve been fortunate to have five beautiful children. There’s nothing more exciting or rewarding than to see our kids happy, fulfilled and accomplishing their goals, no matter how big or small. As a Capital One associate, I’ve seen the emphasis the company places on innovative workforce development programs and the great strides to prepare our future leaders. I take the same approach within my nonprofit. I want our youth participants to have a platform to share their ideas with the world, while giving them the tools and resources to become wildly successful.
You started college early with some big dreams — how did your determination play a role in creating a life you love, even in the face of challenges?
There’s a formula I like to use: Determination + Direction = Grit. Grit is having a particular goal (direction) and the perseverance (determination) to see it through. This formula has helped me create a life I love personally and professionally. As Capital One’s Principal HR Consultant, I help more than 300 associates become better leaders. How fulfilling is that? But before I got to my current chapter in life, I had to overcome many obstacles while earning my Bachelor’s degree. Each obstacle made me more resilient.
As an 18-year-old college sophomore, I welcomed my first child into the world, and he was the greatest gift. While I enjoyed being a mother, concerns of my ability to accomplish my dreams and aspirations became heavy. I soon realized many mothers feel this. However, my parents and grandparents always stressed the importance of education. So, I wrote down my goal to finish my Bachelor’s degree magna cum laude. In my journey toward this goal, I became a single mother and had to pause classes to take care of my small family. I lost my maternal grandmother, who helped raise me, to Alzheimer’s and later on I had two beautiful twin daughters and got married. There were several plot twists on my journey, but I never gave up, and ten years later I achieved my goal! I was able to do this through a support system within my family and community. Through them I learned that there are people who want to see us win. Identify them and lean on them when you need it most.
Is there someone who inspired you early on in your career? How did their example shape your journey?
I’ve had so many people inspire me including my husband whose support has made all the difference in the world. I call him my anchor because he keeps me grounded, and he’s not easily flustered by the many curveballs in life. As a former collegiate athlete, he also taught me a lot about grit and determination.
Early in my career, he inspired me to learn more about financial services, including how to build and maintain wealth. And now, I work in the financial services industry for Capital One, a company that invests in the community while inspiring its associates to do the same.
How does your career in financial services play a role in how you mentor young people through YGAB?
The topic of money always comes up at Youth Going Above & Beyond (YGAB), especially when talking about my career at Capital One. As financial professionals, we are passionate about helping our youth learn and improve their financial literacy and life skills. YGAB’s young people want to know how their entrepreneurial spirit can help them make money. We offer a six-month digital branding workshop that teaches them how to create positive, impactful digital footprints. Most importantly, we teach them how to manage their money. Many of my peers, like Brandee Tucker pictured above, at Capital One have been instrumental in creating and facilitating budgeting classes for our young people. It has helped them manage their own finances and their parents’ household finances. These important life skills will serve them for years to come and can be passed down through generations.
What does “going above and beyond” look like in the lives of the students you work with? How does it play out in a year like 2021?
Going above and beyond for our students looks like overcoming the incredible challenges of 2020, and still excelling in the classroom. For our juniors and seniors in high school, going above and beyond looks like earning admission into colleges and universities, despite it all. I’m so proud of our young people, and it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Not only did they have to transition to a different learning environment, they had to excel at a crucial time in their development. They are conquering every challenge, and in 2021, we will see many of them off to college with quite a few who have earned both academic and athletic scholarships.
Inclusivity is a core value in your work, both at Capital One and also YGAB. What does that mean to you as a Black woman, and also as a mother who is modeling true diversity for her kids?
As a Black woman, I’ve felt excluded, overlooked and under-estimated far too often. I’ve watched my mom, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins fight to gain decision-making authority and influence in their respective industries. Watching them live our family motto of “never give up” has inspired me to fight alongside them. And, without a doubt, our presence is needed in every field.
As a mother, inclusion means my children learn about the Black, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQ+ heroes that are improving our lives every day, and seeing themselves in these powerful figures, confirming they, too, can do and be anything they desire. I feel incredibly optimistic about the world they are inheriting because of those who are fighting alongside us, across race and gender, to make sure everyone has equal access to education and wealth.
I’m so fortunate at Capital One to learn from the best diversity experts in the world! At Capital One, we have always operated under the belief that our diversity makes us stronger—more innovative, nimble and resilient. By growing our diversity and advancing a culture of belonging for all of our associates, we improve the performance of our people, our business and our communities.
You launched a program called “Hear Her Roar” at YGAB specifically for empowering young women. What tools and practices are part of that program and what results are you seeing?
Our “Hear Her Roar” program is designed to empower young ladies to use their voice, care for themselves and unleash their full potential. We focus on self-care, self-love and self-confidence because many of us have struggled with these concepts as adults. It took me a long time to learn how important my own care was to my family.
When designing our core curriculum, we asked ourselves, “What do we wish we knew at 15 years old?” So, we teach self-care techniques to help them maintain healthy thoughts. Our techniques are focused on mindfulness and yoga practices that can be used to decompress from hard days at school or at home. We provide self-love resources by creating daily affirmations tailored to each of our unique young ladies. We demonstrate self-confidence by bringing in speakers who have overcome the biggest challenges while creating the lives they love. By teaching our young ladies how to manage stress, affirm themselves, and believe bigger, we are creating powerful leaders who will be happy and healthy for years to come. As a group, we say our motto during every session: “I am Woman. Hear Me Roar!” We literally hear their voices become stronger and stronger each time we say it together.
Our young ladies are confident and ready to face any challenge. Our program participants have started their own businesses in high school, they’ve been accepted to colleges across the country with full scholarships and all of them return to mentor younger participants.
How have partnerships and collaborations made it possible for YGAB to grow?
I’ve learned from my time at Capital One that community collaborations are the key to creating a resilient workforce—the investments we make in our community programs help build dynamic environments. Through partnerships and collaborations with YGAB, we have been able to reach three times as many families across the country. When we connect with other organizations focused on empowering the next generation of leaders, it’s amazing to see how our missions align. I’m forever thankful for our team of soldiers who want to see our youth healthy, happy and thriving. Our collaborations started with genuine conversations about wanting to do something powerful in the community and led to the creation of our Hear Her Roar program and our newly launched youth blog gives a positive outlet for young people while highlighting the incredible things they’re doing.
If a teen is ready to participate in YGAB, what are the first steps?
Teens and parents should fill out our contact form. A member of our team will reach out and add you to our email list to keep you updated on our events and volunteer opportunities. Also, because of our passion to serve the entire family unit, we are offering parent labs focused on strengthening family communication. We believe the best teachers for children are their parents. With everyone spending so much time at home, it’s important we provide positive communication tools that will strengthen the entire household.
How have YGAB and Capital One responded to the recent winter storms in Texas?
Capital One managers are working with Texas area associates to provide support including directing them to emergency support via our Employee Assistance Program. We are also in close contact with nonprofit partners including local food banks and the American Red Cross, activating funding and support as needed.
At YGAB, we drive action through collaboration with local businesses during unprecedented times. Last week, we saw families in need of food, water and fuel assistance. We quickly shared information about local food pantries who were mobilized during the storm. Our volunteers offered to gather free water from city resources by taking water jugs to families who were not mobile, mostly with young children and our elderly community. It was also important we connected our donor base to mutual aid groups who were on the front lines providing warm shelter to families in need. Collaboration empowers problem-solving and makes us much more effective in a short period of time. I’m incredibly proud of our volunteers, our local business partners and our donors for standing with Texas in our time of need. Together, we can and will conquer the most difficult challenges!